John Douglas, left, of Port Alberni Shelter Society joins Blanket BC co-founder Gregory Ould, his wife Fumika and seven-month-old daughter Zoe in front of Our Home on Eighth on Feb. 19, 2021. The Oulds donated blankets and toques to the shelter as part of a Vancouver Island tour. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

John Douglas, left, of Port Alberni Shelter Society joins Blanket BC co-founder Gregory Ould, his wife Fumika and seven-month-old daughter Zoe in front of Our Home on Eighth on Feb. 19, 2021. The Oulds donated blankets and toques to the shelter as part of a Vancouver Island tour. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

Blanket BC delivers warmth, hope to Vancouver Island’s homeless

Gregory Ould donated blankets, toques in five communities

Gregory Ould’s mission to share the warmth of British Columbia began when he walked out of a movie theatre 15 years ago and encountered a person settling in on the sidewalk for the night.

“I asked one question,” Ould said during a recent visit as he grabbed clean, rolled up blankets from the floor of his minivan to donate to the Port Alberni Shelter Society.

” I said, ‘what can I do to help?’ He said ‘I could use a blanket to survive the night.’ It was that statement that floored me.”

That night spurred the formation of Blanket BC: a non-profit organization that collects and distributes blankets and warm clothing to shelter programs and families in need. It also raises awareness of homelessness, poverty and socio-economic issues. Ould, its co-founder and executive director was on Vancouver Island from Feb. 17–21 distributing blankets in several communities. He was accompanied by wife Fumika and daughter Zoe, seven months.

Ould’s co-founder is his son Ben, who was 22 months old when Ould came home that night from the movie theatre. Ould has always involved his children Ben, now 17, and Emma, 13 in his non-profit endeavours.

Ould bought the man on the sidewalk a blanket that first night. In the past 15 years he has developed relationships with linen companies and now re-purposes linens no longer suitable for hospital or airline use into donations for shelters and organizations helping people who live without proper housing. Blanket BC also accepts donations of clean blankets from the public.

“We capture what would normally be thrown out,” he said.

He was given 5,000 toques in November and has distributed them in communities across the province.

A blanket can make all the difference for a person living on the street, said John Douglas from Port Alberni Shelter Society. Douglas and an employee ensured donated blankets and toques were brought into a storeroom at Our Home on Eighth shelter on Eighth Avenue.

“It helps, it gives people one more element that helps them get through the night, and helps them with their level of housing,” Douglas said.

“We’ll distribute them through our different facilities: the sobering assessment centre and the overdose prevention site.”

The shelter society distributes a number of donated products through their sites to people in need, he explained. ” A lot of people can use them, especially during the wintertime.”

The Oulds met Port Alberni Mayor Sharie Minions at the Bread of Life warming centre on Third Avenue, where they distributed more blankets and toques as well as sleeping bags.

“We’re so incredibly appreciative to have the gift of blankets that we’ve gotten. To a lot of people living on the street in Port Alberni a blanket is all that they have,” Minions said.

“For me and for the average person, it’s something we take for granted. We don’t think about needing to equip ourselves to be warm, we just expect that we will be.”

Ould hopes to return to Vancouver Island again in the fall with more blankets to distribute.



susie.quinn@albernivalleynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

HomelessnessPort Alberni

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Gregory and Fumika Ould and their daughter Zoe bring blankets and toques to Our Home on Eighth Shelter in Port Alberni on Friday, Feb. 19, 2021. They stopped in five communities on Vancouver Island with Blanket BC. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

Gregory and Fumika Ould and their daughter Zoe bring blankets and toques to Our Home on Eighth Shelter in Port Alberni on Friday, Feb. 19, 2021. They stopped in five communities on Vancouver Island with Blanket BC. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

Gregory Ould of Blanket BC caught up with Port Alberni Mayor Sharie Minions when he went to the Bread of Life Warming Centre to drop off blankets and toques to Colin Minions, who is director of food security for the Salvation Army. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

Gregory Ould of Blanket BC caught up with Port Alberni Mayor Sharie Minions when he went to the Bread of Life Warming Centre to drop off blankets and toques to Colin Minions, who is director of food security for the Salvation Army. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

Just Posted

Alberni Valley Bulldogs’ goalie Luke Pearson stopped all 22 shots the Cowichan Capitals sent his way to collect a 5–0 shutout in B.C. Hockey League action, Saturday, April 10, 2021. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
BCHL: Pearson earns shutout in Bulldogs’ win over Cowichan Capitals

Alberni Valley will face Victoria Grizzlies Sunday, April 11 at 3 p.m.

A 3.0-magnitude earthquake occurred off Ucluelet just after 12:30 a.m. on April 10 and was reportedly felt as far south as Oregon. (Map via United States Geological Survey)
Quake off Ucluelet reportedly felt as far south as Oregon

Magnitude 1.5 earthquake also reported off Vancouver Island’s west coast hours earlier

Princess Elizabeth and her new husband, Prince Philip—behind the wheel—visited the Alberni Valley on the princess's inaugural visit to Canada. A photographer with Charnell Studios in Port Alberni captured the young newlyweds along the parade route on Oct. 25, 1951, months before Princess Elizabeth became Queen. Prince Philip died April 9, 2021, just shy of his 100th birthday. This photo is one of 24,000 in the Alberni Valley Museum's online archives, available for public viewing at https://portalberni.pastperfectonline.com. (PHOTO PN 13605 COURTESY OF ALBERNI VALLEY MUSEUM)
LOOK BACK: Prince Philip and his new bride visit Port Alberni

A special look back with the Alberni Valley Museum to honour the life of Prince Philip

John Ambrose Seward, 33, is described as Indigenous and five-foot-eight with short black hair and brown eyes. (Police handout)
John Ambrose Seward, 33, is described as Indigenous and five-foot-eight with short black hair and brown eyes. (Police handout)
High-risk sex offender banned from central Island, living in Vancouver: police

John Ambrose Seward, 33, has been released from prison under a number of conditions

Third-generation residential school survivor, poet and attorney Francine Merasty will be a featured author at Electric Mermaid Live Reads on April 16. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Residential school survivor and poet to read at Electric Mermaid

Electric Mermaid: Live Reads takes place online via Zoom on Friday, April 16 at 5:45 p.m.

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod, seen here on April 9, 2021 with four-year-old sister Elena and mom Vanessa, was born with limb differences. The family, including husband/dad Sean McLeod, is looking for a family puppy that also has a limb difference. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. family looking for puppy with limb difference, just like 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy McLeod born as bilateral amputee, now her family wants to find ‘companion’ puppy for her

A vehicle that was driven through the wall of a parkade at Uptown Shopping Centre and into the nearby Walmart on April 9 was removed through another hole in the wall later that night. (Photo via Saanich Police Department and Ayush Kakkar)
Vehicle launched into B.C. Walmart removed following rescue of trapped workers

Crews cut new hole in parkade wall to remove vehicle safely

Four members with Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans were out at Cultus Lake on March 28 and 29 hauling trash out of the waters. (Henry Wang)
PHOTOS: Out-of-town divers remove 100s of pounds of trash from Cultus Lake

Members of Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans hauled out 470 pounds of trash over two days

As of Saturday, April 10, people born in 1961 are the latest to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. (Black Press files)
B.C. residents age 60+ can now register to get their COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccine registration is now open to people born in 1961 or earlier

A new saline gargle test, made in B.C., will soon be replacing COVID-19 nasal swab tests for kids. (PHSA screenshot)
Take-home COVID-19 tests available for some B.C. students who fall ill at school

BC Children’s Hospital plans to provide 1,200 kits to Vancouver district schools this April

Ruming Jiang and his dog Chiu Chiu are doing fine following a brush with hypothermia that saw several people work together to get them out of the Fraser River near Langley’s Derby Reach Park on March 25, 2021 (Special to the Advance Times)
Man finds men who rescued him from drowning in B.C.’s Fraser River

A grateful Ruming Jiang says he will thank them again, this time in person when the pandemic ends

The 10-part Netflix series Maid, which is being exclusively shot in Greater Victoria, was filming near Prospect Lake in Saanich last month. (Photo courtesy Fred Haynes)
Province announces $150,000 towards South Island film studio, fulfilling B.C. NDP promise

Investment to fund movie studio feasibility study at Camosun College

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read